The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) – Movie Review

We all know we got excited over the trailer of The Autopsy of Jane Doe, no doubt gracing it with reverence like it was the Second Coming. I can’t blame you: the trailer is a masterpiece in and of itself. But does the film live up to expectations? 

A bizarre triple-homicide in Grantham, Virginia has left Sheriff Sheldon (Michael McElhatton) baffled: no sign of forced entry, nothing stolen and a Jane Doe (Olwen Kelly) found in the basement. Cause of death is a mystery best left to father and son pathologist team Tommy and Austin Tilden (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) to figure out. But as the autopsy proceeds, strange events befall the Tilden Morgue and Crematorium. Who is Jane Doe? Is her death a mystery better left unsolved?

When IFC Midnight pops up in the credits, expectations are best left low. Thankfully however, The Autopsy of Jane Doe rises above the usual glut of IFC Midnight offerings and doesn’t leave a foul taste in your mouth. But just barely.

Things start off strong with the mystery surrounding Jane Doe and the Lovecraftian flavor of the proceedings that pull the viewer in. Indeed, this mystery is the film’s strongest point, certain to keep audience’s attention. The build-up is commendable as well: each piece falls into place and takes the mystery to a new level, climbing higher and higher until all Hell breaks loose.

Unfortunately, it is there that things begin to fall apart. Director Andre Øvredal and writers Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing show they don’t really have any new tricks up their sleeves. All of the scares are predictable and typical of standard genre fare, bringing nothing new to the table. Attempts at creating atmosphere aren’t that successful and the creep factor is minimal. I kept waiting for the hair on the back of my neck to stand up, but it never happened. By the third act, the engine begins running out of steam and you’re just waiting for the secret to be revealed and the movie to end. The secret behind Jane Doe will probably leave viewers with ambivalent feelings and the ending leaves a bit to be desired. But it at least ties things together nicely.

On the performance front, Brian Cox steals the show. His veneer is one of determination and dedication concealing a despairing individual underneath – which, unfortunately, isn’t prominent in the script at all. Emile Hirsch, on the other hand, delivers a so-so performance. While he does his part, he seems generally uninterested in the film and subject matter, saying his lines and moving about because there’s a paycheck at the end.

I do have to give kudos to the special effects team for utilizing well-done practical effects.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is, unfortunately, not the Second Coming of Horror that many may have hoped. While it’s certainly above-average, too many clichés and predictable aspects prevent the film from soaring to heights worthy of its premise. Still, the film is worth watching. It can be viewed on Amazon or Vudu. 

About Evan Romero

Evan Romero has been a horror fan since watching “Leprechaun” at the age of five. Aside from watching and writing about horror flicks, he delights in torturing friends with Z-grade movies. He’s also an unabashed Andy Milligan fan, God help him.

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